The reigning IAAF World Road Running champions Zersenay Tadesse (ERI) and Lornah Kiplagat (NED) took this afternoon’s senior World Cross Country Championship titles on Mombasa’s Golf Course, the venue for the 35th edition of these championships.
Kiplagat was majestic in victory in the senior women’s race. Always in the leading group, come the third lap Kiplagat broke away with ease from her pursuers who included Ethiopia’s three time World Cross Champion Tirunesh Dibaba, 2006 short course winner Gelete Burka, and Meselech Melkamu, who like her two compatriots is a former World Junior champion at the World Country Championships.
Kenyan born Kiplagat, who is married to her Dutch manager and competes for the Netherlands and took the European title in 2005, carried the day in the 8km women’s race in 26:23. Her three main Ethiopian challengers were next across the finish, the order was Dibaba (silver), Melkamu (bronze),and Gelete Burka (fourth), their times repectively - 26:47, 26:48 and 26:55. NB. OFFICIAL.
If Dibaba’s defeat was unexpected then the demise of the five-time double individual gold medallist in the men’s race, Kenenisa Bekele, was virtually cataclysmic in terms of the world of long distance running which the World and Olympic 10,000m track champion has dominated for half a decade.
Stomach pains end Bekele's race
Contesting the lead with Tadesse at the start of the fifth lap in what was a 12km men’s senior race, the two men were some 15 seconds ahead of a chasing pack which included Kenyan Trials winner Moses Mosop, Bekele suddenly dropped out. Waving to the crowd as he walked away, he seemed uninjured, and a later Ethiopian Federation statement said - "Bekele dropped out in the middle of the race due to stomach pains caused by intense heat and humidity."
In his absence Tadesse sauntered to an easy win in 35:50, with Mosop a distant silver medallist some 23 seconds back (36:13), and Bernard Kiprop Kipyego (36:37) in bronze. Kenya were the emphatic team champions with a total score of just 28 points, as opposed to Morocco (146) and Uganda (185). Their arch rivals Ethiopia were routed with a total of five of their team not finishing and so they didn’t obtain any team position!
Kenya took both the junior golds - Asbel Kiprop and Linet Chepkwemoi Barasa – and team titles with sweeps of the medal podiums.
The only consolation for Ethiopia on a day of relative disaster by their usually high standards was a women’s senior team title thanks to their great packing behind Kiplagat’s individual win.
Chris Turner for the IAAF
Detailed race reports and photographs will follow later
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